Kano—The Forefather of Grime and How His Latest Album Is Exceptional

Updated on November 7, 2016


"Its KA"

The exclamation of his own arrival is preceded only by expectations of a gargantuan proportion. It had been six years since we were last graced with an album from one of grime’s forefathers, and it did not disappoint. 'Made in the Manor' - Kano's 5th studio album – was released on the 4th March this year [2016], and it landed with an almighty bang into the grime/rap world. With the emergence of grime artists like Skepta and Stormzy, the genre has truly proven itself to be up to the mainstream standard and it was only a matter of time before its forefather had his say

So Why Is Kano a Forefather?

He self-proclaimed this fact in his 2013 collaboration with Benga under the same title, and rather coincidentally, 'forefather' stamped this title upon him. But being from the ends - growing up in East Ham in the London borough of Newham - offered him the mentality to never back down, it is safe to say he did not. The sore fact fellow MC's D Double E and Footsie both hail from the same ends – along with their colossal success as the Newham Generals and in their respective solo careers – meant that Kano has always known that a step up to the plate wouldn’t be enough, he'd have to make a leap. But his fight for the limelight started in 2003 with the release of the smash hit ‘Vice Versa (Boy's Love Girl's)’. He had managed to invade into the garage world with his darker beats and faster flows, the result was a new genre; Grime.

I am not in any way crediting KA as the only founder/forefather of grime, groups such as So Solid Crew and MC's such as Lethal Bizzle and Wiley had also been involved in its origins, and still to this day are also hailed as forefathers of the genre. Songs such as Skepta's ‘Rolex Sweep’ - and in particular the ‘Jamie Duggan Meets Da Booda In Yer Face Mix’ – were already introducing the world to grime and storming nightclubs all over Britain with fast flows, clever bars and 'bopping' beats but the latter song did not make a debut until 2008.

It was songs such as 2005’s hit ‘P's and Q's’ and 2007’s ‘Buss it up’ that started to get real attention focused onto the grime world. It gave grime a new meaning; it separates the genre from hype songs like ‘Pow!’ By Bizzle and created a new dimension to the bars these artists spat, a realism that hadn't been seen since the hip-hop era. Now songs like ‘T-shirt Weather in the Manor’ and ‘This is England’ have taken the realism that the previous hip-hop MC's portrayed to an expert level.

T-Shirt Weather in the Manor

Made in the Manor

"When the tees turn into vests/But I'm talking Kevlar/Cos [sic] things aren't cool anymore/Bricks might ruin your door" is a snippet of bars from the song ‘T-shirt Weather in the Manor’ and is an example of how Kano can get real. The bars speak for themselves really; I cannot do justice to the intelligence behind them and their portrayal of the real London through the eyes of one of its finest creations. However, the continuity of the context and the flip between the songs earlier theme of the enjoyment of summers 'in the manor' to the slap in the face realization of how growing up in the midst of it can be dark and dangerous is especially a key highlight of KA's ability to own every person’s mind - during the few minutes his songs last - that is clever enough to let his music grace their blessed eardrums.

Made in the Manor Released 4 March 2016

The focus here is his ability to make you think. The moral of being an artist and being in the mainstream lime light should be focused on spreading a message, and trying to get people - like myself who some would say is privileged enough not to of grown up in the 'hood' - to understand the real situation that runs through each of our major city's streets. KA does this in the finest of manners (pun half intended).

On the other side of Kano’s talents lies songs such as ‘This is England’. A rally call to the old-skool 'skankers' with references to old time artists and songs like a roll call at the school of the finest MC's music has ever heard. He recalls the parties and the long nights, and uses the harsh truths of what it was actually like to be in the scene, to pull together a vision of England that I - as a 19 year old living in the south east - can just about relate too, suffering many-a-times to walking out a friend’s house at 6am without sleep. Though this does bring up the argument that his music is limited to only the young and not reachable by the elder generation before the up-rising of the art of MCing as we now know it in 1980 - with the top 40 breakthrough ‘Rappers Delight’ by the Sugar Hill Gang. Kano's music does hold a level of respect that even these persons can appreciate: mix in the occasional soft, string led beat, relatively rare use of swear words and an un-deniable talent, and you have one of grimes greatest artists. Ever.

2005's Home Sweet Home

How the Album was Recieved

The album debuted at number 8 in the album charts back in March. This being his first top ten album - beating 2007's ‘London Town’s number 14 and a surprisingly low number 36 for 2005's ‘Home Sweet Home’ - only goes to prove that grime is in the mainstream now, and it is not going anywhere soon. The fact that Kano is at the forefront of it even to this date, is just homage to his pure, raw talent and how he will forever be grime's forefather.

Kano Albums

Album Title
Release Date
Peak Chart Rating
Home Sweet Home
27 Jan 2005
London Town
10 Sep 2007
140 Grime Street
29 Sep 2008
Method to the Maadness
30 Aug 2010
Made in the Manor
4 Mar 2016


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